Hood to Coast: After My First Run

I left off with my first Leg of the Hood to Coast run. For dinner we decided to go to the Hotcake House in Portland. It’s your typical greasy spoonโ€ฆthe kinda joint you go to at 3am after the club closes. I will admit I spent most of my 20’s there at 3am. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Since I had just finished my first run, I knew I should eat. Especially since I didn’t know when we’d get to eat again. But honestly, I usually cannot eat much immediately after running. I need at least an hour before my stomach settles. I never have the “runner’s runs” or anything like that. Instead, I lose my appetite.

So I ordered breakfast for dinner. I figured that would be what my stomach could handle. I ordered a large orange juice, water, 1 fried egg over easy, sausage links and an English Muffin. It came with a pound of hash-browns. I ate what I could and left the rest.

I drank half of my orange juice but my stomach just couldn’t handle much.


As you can see, I ate half the English muffin, my egg, some hash-browns and 2 sausage links. My stomach was churning too. I called Michael and I called my mom.ย  It was probably almost 8:30 or 9 at this point. Time to get back in the van. We drove through Portland and connect to Highway 30 to follow the route to the next big Exchange. Van #1 was doing all the running so it was our “time to wait” time.

Highway 30 is a frightening, busy, scary highway and I worried about the safety of the runners. We were all required to wear headlamps or a flashlight, 2 blinky lights and a safety reflective vest. I still worried about everyone’s safety.
We got to the St. Helen’s fairgrounds and parked the van. It was our time to try and catch some sleep before we had to meet Van #1 at about midnight.

I climbed into my sleeping bag on the ground and tried to sleep. Of course I couldn’t. I was too excited and too high from my run. I tried to at least rest though. It was a strange thing to sleep outside in a field without a tent. And like I said before, this race is one big party so there was tons of noise and commotion going on at all times. Air-horns, vans honking, people cheering, the sound of Vuvazelas. ๐Ÿ™‚ After a little while Allen got up and woke us all up. I’d just been laying there trying to sleep but didn’t sleep. We packed up the van and Heather got ready for her next run. We went to the exchange point and waited. I saw this van decorated with Christmas lights:
It was dark. It was very cold. There were some tents set up where people were selling coffee, tea, hot cocoa, soup and other food for runners. My stomach was still a little nauseated so I didn’t buy anything.

The soup sounded really good thoughโ€ฆ.

Van #1 finally arrived and Leslie passed on the official team clipboard to Janell to keep track of all our run times. The clipboard had to be with each van that was currently running and then turned in at the finish line for our official team time.
It was a very strange experience to be out there in the middle of the night. And even stranger to RUN in the middle of the nightโ€ฆbut more on that later.

Van #1 passed off to us and they left to go to the next Exchange where we’d meet them in 6 hours or so. Heather took off running and we drove to meet her at the next Exchange. I wasn’t tired yet, but I was starting to feel “weird.” Like those weird “wired” feelings you get when you’re full of energy but tired at the same time. It was mesmerizing sitting in the van watching the runners in the dark. Sometimes all I could see was the reflective vests.

Our first runner (Heather) had a good section through the countryside (aka Middle of Nowhere). It was through a forest with scattered houses here and there. The downside? It was all uphill. And definitely the setting of a horror movie!

This next part of the story is not a great experience for any of us, I think.

The Gravel

These next 3 legs were the ones my teammates had been dreading. I knew it would be on gravel roads, but I had no idea what to expect for them. I did not really get any pictures at this time. It was dark for one, and we didn’t have much time. The congestion on the roads was AWFUL. The vans were barely moving. Not only that, our runners were running on gravel roads. UPHILL. They had to wear bandannas on their faces just to breath. Janell has asthma and took her inhaler with her. Janell had been dreading her second leg all day. It was literally uphill the entire time. And steep too. Now add into that gravel roads and horrible dust kicked up from the vans = not fun.

Janell did pretty good on her run. She tagged Allen and he took off. Since the congestion was so bad, our next runner in line was having to get out and walk probably a mile or so to the Exchange or else they would not meet our runner for the exchange. Not good.

The other part that sucked was that the gravel dust was getting into the van too. The circulating air was sucking it up and then circulating it into the van. Yuck. I tried not to get out of the van too much because the gravel dust was really bothering my eyes. For the rest of Hood to Coast it felt like I had gravel dust under my contact lenses. It was brutal. ๐Ÿ™ I ended up just throwing them away as soon I was done.

It was 3 am and getting closer to my turn to run. I was anxious. While my first Leg had been filled with confidence and security because I knew the route, my second Leg was a complete mystery.

Hood to Coast: Day One

This post will be about some of the race recap before my first leg. Since I was the last runner in the van, I got to see everything happen before I even ran. It was both a blessing and a curse. The blessing was that I felt prepared for what I was supposed to do when it was my turn. The curse was that I had to wait FOREVER before it was my turn! That’s hard to do when you’re excited. ๐Ÿ™‚

Me, Heather, Janell, James, Allen (Daryl not in pic)

We all met at the van at noon and packed up. We had to drive to the Sandy Fred Meyer for our first Exchange point with Van #1. Our first van had started at 8:45 am and ran down the top of Mt. Hood. Their last runner (Bruce) was supposed to tag our first runner (Heather).

Heather, Allen

Walking through the packed parking lot, I wondered why anyone in their right mind would try to shop at Fred Meyer on Hood to Coast day. ๐Ÿ™‚ I saw so many people frustrated that there was no parking. DUH. ๐Ÿ™‚ The parking lot was full of vans. And everyone decorated their vans. There were some really creative ones too.

There were also lots of freebies for runners. A Muscle Milk van, a Widmer van, Monster Drink, Clif Bar, just to name a few. We snagged as much free stuff as we could and went to the Exchange Point. This one was on the highway and the nonrunners had to stand on one side while the upcoming runners had to cross to the other side for their Exchange. It was crazy! The highway gets a lot of traffic and I’m sure we were VERY distracting for drivers. I saw three “almost” accidents (rear-endings) and lots of drivers honked and cheered us all on.

It was a total party atmosphere. Just check out this guy:

Yes–that is a Mullet wig. ๐Ÿ™‚


Heather (our first runner) was READY!

Daryl, James, Allen

So our team ran in this order: Heather, Janell, Allen, Daryl, James and then me. We tried to keep in contact with Van #1 to find out what time they would finish with their last run to tag us. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. It all depended on traffic congestion, organization at each Exchange, and cell service.



Bruce (last runner in Van #1) finally arrived and tagged Heather. She took off running. She was really fast. Actually, most of the runners in our van were really fast. I think Janell and I were the average paced runners.

We got back in the van after the hand-off and drove to the next Exchange Point.ย  I was amped up with adrenaline. We had finally started!! Whenever it was time for Van #2 to be running, the energy level was high and the pressure to reach the next Exchange BEFORE our runner, was intense. We cheered and encouraged all the other runners, too. We’d drive by them and yell out the windows “Good job!” “You look great!” “Keep running!”

These next legs were very hilly. The book described them as “gentle rolling hills” and that became the running joke in the van. Like “eff these rolling hills!” ๐Ÿ™‚

I am so thankful that most of my runs were relatively flat. I don’t think I’d survive Hood to Coast doing the early, hilly legs! We got to the next Exchange and Janell and Heather changed places. Heather got back in the van and we took off to meet Janell.

Halfway to the next Exchange we stopped on the side of the road to wait for Janell. Allen (her husband) met up with her and jogged for a moment giving her encouragement and much needed water. Her section was VERY hilly. She looked really tired too.


Janell and Allen

After Janell passed on to Allen, we went to the other Exchange for Daryl to get ready. He is an amazing athlete and I’ll be posting more about his story later.

We were getting closer to my time to race and my excitement was building. The anticipation might kill me. ๐Ÿ˜‰ The next runner was Daryl and he rocked like a 6 minute mile. ๐Ÿ™‚
Time for the exchange!

Allen did a great job running and he looked good too. I don’t remember how long that leg was, but he was fast.

I hope this hasn’t been confusing since this is out of order. So this all happened, and then next James ran and I ran my first leg. Recap for Leg 12 here.